Happy end of our 1st week of school! I thought I’d send you the written version of the remarks I made to the students in our all school assembly today. I didn’t read it, so it isn’t verbatim what I said to everyone, but it is what I wrote beforehand to prepare.
I also wanted to let you know that today in advisory we did a lesson with the kids on the relationship between balance and stress. We all watched this Ted Talk on How to Make Stress Your Friend. I thought maybe you’d like to see it and to talk about our Theme of Balance at home. https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend#t-444057
Have a great long weekend.
Here are my remarks:
So earlier I spoke to you all about the theme of balance we have for this year and I wanted to take just a couple of minutes at our opening assembly to sharpen the focus on that a bit more.
The way I want to do that is to talk to you about one book I read and one documentary film I watched this summer.
The book is called Exit West and it is a work of fiction centered around two college aged characters. They are named Saeed and Nadia and they meet after class one day and begin dating. They live in a fictional city in a Middle Eastern Country that is experiencing a civil war. Slowly their city gets taken over by the war. They lose their cell service so they can’t call each other. They lose their vehicles and it becomes dangerous to travel to see each other. Then Nadia loses her home. They eventually flee their city and have to leave Saeed’s father behind. They make it to Greece, then to London and finally they make it to San Francisco after many hardships where the story ends. When I read this I had deeper understanding that this story represents what some people’s life has been and I had a feeling of gratitude for the amazing opportunities each of us has here.
The film I watched was called Mr. Rogers and me and it was a documentary about a man who spent his summers on Nantucket, literally as Mr. Rogers’ neighbor. Mr. Rogers had the longest running children’s television show in history called Mister Rogers Neighborhood. What I took away from that film was something I connected to Exit West and it is a quotation Mr. Rogers would say over and over again. He said, “I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex.” In the novel Saeed and Nadia found comfort and joy in simple things because eventually that was all they had. I believe this connects importantly to what we need to think about when we try to achieve balance in our lives. Deep and simple is where we will find authenticity in our work. Finding something that is meaningful to us and spending time really coming to a deep understanding of it will help us to balance all the complex and shallow information that comes at us through all the different forms that exist today.
Now I want to use another moment from the film to illustrate the importance of deep and simple. I’m stealing this bit from my good friend Rob Evans who also uses this in some of his public speeches, but I don’t think he’d mind. In 1997 Mr. Rogers won a lifetime achievement Emmy for his work on PBS. When he came up and began thanking people he reminded his audience that all of us have “special ones who have helped us into being.” He said we all have “Those who have cared for you and wanted what was best for you in life.” Then he did something truly remarkable and asked everyone to take 10 seconds of silence to think about who those people are in your life. So, I’d like to ask you all here now to make sure you put your phones down, and take 10 seconds to think about those people in your life. As Mr. Rogers said that night, “I’ll watch the time.” …
Whoever you thought of must feel great to know the difference they’ve made in your life.
Deep and simple. As you go through your year I hope all of you, adults and students alike, are able to find balance by focusing on what is deep and simple in your lives rather than what’s shallow and complex.
I want to thank you all for a good opening week and all the changes in our schedule. In fact, you’ve been so good, I’ve decided to give all you Monday off. 🙂
Have a great weekend and a great year.